Volkswagen is sincerely sorry that it got caught designing its diesels to cheat on emissions tests, and it has proposed to recall some 482,000 vehicles and modify them to bring them into compliance.
VW has not yet revealed exactly how it will do this, and some automotive experts have pointed out that a technical fix will be extremely difficult (that’s why VW chose to use sneaky software instead of making the cars compliant in the first place). In some cases, it may be cheaper to simply crush the cars and replace them.
This all sounds like a monumental waste of money, and far from the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions. In a letter to the California Air Resources Board (via Green Car Reports), a group of 45 Silicon Valley execs and environmental leaders, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, have proposed another way to deal with the problem: leave the offending vehicles alone, and require VW to spend the money on selling EVs instead.
“For a significant fraction of the non-compliant diesel cars already in the hands of drivers, there is no real solution,” write the 45. “A giant sum of money thus will be wasted in attempting to fix cars that cannot all be fixed, and the fix may be worse than the problem if the cars are crushed well before the end of their useful lives.”
The proposed solution:
- Release VW from its obligation to fix diesel cars already on the road in California, which represent an insignificant portion of total vehicles emissions in the State, and which cars do not, individually, present any emissions-related risk to their owners or occupants
- Instead, direct VW to accelerate greatly its rollout of zero emission vehicles, which by their very nature, have zero emissions and thus present zero opportunities for cheating, and also do not require any enforcement dollars to verify
- Require that this acceleration of the rollout of zero emissions vehicles by VW result in a 10 for 1 or greater reduction in pollutant emissions as compared to the pollution associated with the diesel fleet cheating, and achieve this over the next 5 years
- Require that VW invest in new manufacturing plants and/or research and development, in the amounts that they otherwise would have been fined, and do so in California to the extent that California would have been allocated its share of the fines
- Allow VW some flexibility in the execution and timing of this plan by allowing it to be implemented via ZEV credits.
The signatories point out that there is a precedent for this type of resolution: “In the industry-wide 1990 diesel truck cheating scandal, the EPA chose not to require an interim recall but instead moved up the deadline for tougher standards to make up the difference.”
Source: Green Car Reports
Image: NASA Kennedy – CC BY-SA 2.0